Universal Outrage as Controversial Soil4Gold Scheme Opens in Ireland. “Death Knell to Irish Agriculture and Wildlife” claim leading environmental groups. #People4Soil #SaveOurSoil

Published by Eric Maher on

April 1st 2017

The relatively unknown Soil4Gold company opens its doors nationwide today with farming communities, environmental groups and businesses shocked at how they were ever granted a licence.

It’s been described as one of the worst decisions made by the current government and could cause irreversible damage to Ireland’s reputation for food, agriculture and wildlife.

“This isn’t simply a case of political inaction on a national and European level,” claimed a spokesperson for the #people4soil campaign, “the government has clearly been lobbied and swayed into looking away and neglecting the Irish environment.”

People4soil are campaigning for more protection for soil, given that there currently are none, unlike wind, air and water. To support, click sign and support here

When contacted, the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine refused to comment on the granting of the licence.

Land could be handed over to a third party without Landowner’s consent

 Registered in the Cayman Islands but with most of their business occuring in South America and Africa, Soil4Gold will make Dublin its European headquarters and hopes to take advantage of Ireland’s low tax rate, reputation for quality soil and, hopefully, their solid relationship with the UK in a post-Brexit world.

How it works

Image result for front garden fence

Would you rent out your front garden?

Soil4Gold leases land from farmers and landowners and rents it to big companies for a fixed period. They can then use the land for a plethora of reasons but cannot build on the land without special dispensation from the owner.

The price of the land depends on location, acerage, duration of contract  and, also, its quality. Soil4Gold scientists test random samples of the soil from a particular plot to decide on its price from their strict and secretive guidelines. They look at its capacity “to function, within natural or managed ecosystem boundaries, to sustain plant and animal productivity, maintain or enhance water and air quality.” Owners are not told how good the soil is either before or after leasing the land.

183ac property located at Lodge, about 5km from Hospital in Co Limerick

Soil4Gold are supposedly close to sealing a deal for this property

The company’s website claims it will buy anything from a “small plot of land outside your front window to a plot the size of Texas.” Most fixed term contracts are ten years and it’s rumoured that Soil4Gold are on the cusp of puchasing Ireland’s largest farm in Limerick. The licence does not allow the company to actively seek land. Instead, prospective sellers must approach the company by mail, over the phone or in person. However, they have been accused about being illegally proactive in other countries.

“They have turned our soil into sand. This is Spoil4Gold”

Controversy, scandal and intrigue has plagued the comapny in South America and Africa. In Tanzania, close to the port city of Dar Es Salaam, land has been left decimated by the company. Overfarming and pesticides have ruined the land and experts are pessimistic about its ability to be revived. “Chemicals are only good in the extreme short term. They hamper the DNA and structure of the soil. Over time, the soil becomes more and more worthless. It can’t hold moisture during the wet season and is as enriching as sand when there is no rain.”

Image result for soil in africa

Land in Tanzania after being rented by Soil4Gold

Some of the chemicals can alter hormones and damage wildlife. “They have turned our soil into sand,” lamented one farmer after the land was handed back to him 8 years into a ten year contract. “They exploited it for all their nutrients and handed it back to me when it was useless to them.” Soil4Gold is not liable for any damage done to the land. Instead, owners have to try go to courts seeking compensation. Having Soil4Gold as a middle man and third party has complicated these matters and no lawsuit against any of the organisations has been successful.

Many governments across South America and Africa have banned Soil4Gold from their countries. New Zealand turned down their application last year. Soil4Gold refused to comment on why they decided to choose Ireland as their European base but many have speculated that the government’s wildlife-threatening Heritage Bill, which would allow vegetation burning in March and hedgecutting in August, and Irish MEPs backing of Roundup at Europe made Ireland an obvious destination.

Rumours of political bribery

A source working for an investigative television show claims to have footage of a senior politician accepting a bribe from an apparent Soil4Gold director. The politician can’t be named until after the episode has been aired. Footage seen by Green News shows the politician in conversation with a Soil4Gold official.

“Pre planning and a venue is necessary first. What I would need would be money. Sterling but until we see how we approach and and how we succeed….. If it’s not successful for you I’m out of the equation, but if it is successful ( makes a gesture with his hands as if he is collecting a treasure of coins of the table) for you I want loadsa money.”

It would explain how the licence was passed. Environemntal groups feel aggrieved by its granting. “This will be the end of Ireland as a unique habitat for so much wildlife. It’s an absolute disgrace.”

This will further strain the government and the Taoiseach. Already struggling with controversy surrounding the Gardaí, the Heritage Bill debacle and Irish Water, the Taosiseach will be waking up to further trouble this April Fool’s morning.

People4Soil needs your help.

Is any of this true? No, none.

Is there such a villanous James Bondesque company such as Soil4Gold in Ireland? Not yet.

Is Irish soil in trouble? Absolutely.

At the moment, unlike water, wind and air, there are no directives in place across Ireland and the EU to protect soil. An Citizens’ initiative across Europe would force politicians to sign a directive into EU law. Ireland needs 8,250 signatures.

It has had an affect on food, flooding and wildlife conservation in Ireland. Click here to find out more and sign/ share the petition.

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Eric Maher

Eric Maher is a contributor to the Green News. He has a Masters in Anglo-Irish Literature and Drama from UCD.